Al-Shabab have begun their ‘new massive war’ against the UN-backed Somali government, killing 32 people; including parliamentarians in a hotel assault close to the presidential palace, forcing Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed to seek military assistance.
A day after Al-Shabab spokesperson Sheik Ali Mohamud warned of a new war against the government, government leaders, foreign agents and former al-Shabab members were attacked and killed as they lodged at the Muna Hotel in Mogadishu.
“We will eliminate them from our country [Somalia] in a battle we call ‘the end of the aggressors.’ They wanted to enjoy themselves in hotels while women and children are sent to makeshift homes,” Mohamud threatened.
According to documented reports by the Associated Press, the attack was carried out by two gunmen who began by firing on people sitting under a tree before moving into the hotel and firing at the reception desk. They moved to the second floor, where they battled security forces and armed parliamentarians.
The altercation continued until the fighters ran out of bullets. One of them then blew himself up. Bodies lay throughout the hotel and people scuffled for security, as the shooting began.
“Smoke filled my room after bullets smashed my window. I hid myself in a corner of the room. Then a guest next door came to my door, screaming ‘Come out! Come out!’ And when I came out bullets continued to fly around,” AP quoted Saynab Qayad, a parliamentarian who survived the attacks.
“I went back to my room and locked my door. Shortly afterward, the hotel staff asked me to come down and put me in a room at the second floor with four other survivors. The body of a member of parliament was lying at that small room’s door,” Qayad added.
Al-Shabab extremists have been trying to limit the efforts of the Somali government. And Tuesday’s attack comes after 40 civilians were killed on Monday during a battle between al-Shabab and Somali and African Union troops, who have been helping in the Somali government’s struggle for relevancy.
“The only intention of this group is to destroy the nation, massacre people and then finally hand the country to ruthless foreigners. So I call upon all Somali people to unite fighting against these enemies and help government forces,” President Sheik Ahmed was quoted.
They [Al-Shabab] insist that men must grow beards, women must never walk alone, and no one must watch TV or listen to music. Punishments can range from amputation to death by stoning.
“The United States reaffirms its strong commitment to stand with the Somali people and transitional government and the African Union mission in Somalia as they courageously work to restore peace and stability in Somalia. And we’re very grateful for the fact that this week we have additional resources arriving in support of the (African Union) mission troops coming from Uganda,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley assured the Somalian government.
Al-Shabab considers the 6,000 African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi that prop up the U.N.-backed Somali government crusaders and invaders. The rebel group identifies itself as the defender of the Somali nation, but its interpretation of Islam is described as harsh.